Interpreting the good life: Growth memories in the lives of mature, happy people

Jack J. Bauer*, Dan P. McAdams, April R. Sakaeda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


In 2 studies, the authors examined autobiographical memories for the presence of 2 growth orientations that were expected to correspond differentially to maturity and well-being, which are considered to be key facets of "the good life" by L. A. King (2001). Mature participants emphasized integrative memories (conceptual integration and learning), whereas happy participants emphasized intrinsic memories (humanistic concerns). Both kinds of growth memories correlated more strongly with eudaimonic than with hedonic measures of well-being. Growth memories were largely independent of Big Five traits in relation to maturity and well-being. Finally, older participants were more likely than younger participants to have greater maturity (marginally) and well-being, but this was in part explained by older participants' greater tendency to have growth memories. The discussion considers the role of growth memories in the intentional cultivation of the good life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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